[openbeos] Re: Openness

  • From: Michael Phipps <mphipps1@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: openbeos@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 13 May 2007 15:57:26 -0400

Jorge G. Mare (a.k.a. Koki) wrote:
OK, so 7 million or so lines of code doesn't earn trust and respect? All of them given away for free? A nearly complete, working version of something that all of the experts told us we couldn't possibly do? If that doesn't do it, I doubt meeting minutes will.

If people are raising the issue on the mailing list (and remember that I did not start this thread), it obviously means that it is not just about the code, but rather the image that the project as a whole reflects. I realize that I am talking about things as abstract as perception, but this is real whether you want to realize it or not.

Sure, I realize that.
Look - we have gone around in circles and dug up a lot of stuff that doesn't really help.

Let's talk about real things that can be done instead of vague points that we may or may not be agreeable.

The idea of continuing the meeting minutes was brought up. Personally, I think that it is pointless, but we are voting on it now. I think that I already dealt with the reason that the changes to the donation page weren't posted in big letters. Is there anything else, specific, that you want to change?

This is total nonsense. The only thing that it takes to get an invitation is the willingness to *DO* hard work. If that isn't open enough, nothing is.

Please, point me to anywhere, say, on the website that clearly states that anyone can be invited to become an admin by showing just willingness to do hard work. What about admin status: is it for life, even if the person makes no more contributions or has distanced from the project? In summary, what are the rules of engagement, and why are they not in a place where everybody can see?

Because it never came up? Because it is pretty similar to what every other big OSS project does? Do you really think that there is some sort of strange conspiracy going on? :-) This isn't the X-Files. ;D Nobody has ever asked how to get on the admin team. If they had, I would have answered it. :-)

No, it's not the lack of roadmap that I am referring to, although having one would help too. I was trying to give an example of an OSS project where those deeply involved in the project do have the willingness to discuss this kind of topics in public, as opposed to doing so in a closed list as it happens in Haiku. This makes the whole organization look much more transparent.

We haven't even had that conversation in private! :-)

Seriously... The reason that we have an admin list is that it keeps signal:noise up AND it emphasizes the voices of those doing the work. There are around 1000 people on this list. Everyone has an opinion. The voices of the 30 people who do all of the work deserve to be heard.

Fair enough, but the commonality ends there. Besides, Haiku does have precedents of disclosing information stuff that is being worked on (as in, not finished). For example, development work that is in progress like the FreeBSD compatibility layer or the JMicron-related SATA support have been reported; this usually has a positive effect on the existing community and it creates an opportunity for more exposure on news channels.

Yes, disclosing some things like this that are completely positive is a good thing. Would it be equally positive to post "Haiku developers are thinking about maybe doing WalterCon in Antarctica on Feb 29?" No. It isn't helpful until it is announced. Nor is every detail of debates on some of these things useful or beneficial.

An analogous open approach could be taken in other areas (like WalterCon, for example) that could open opportunities for people to help out beyond contributing code. I invite you to take a look at http://groups.drupal.org for a good example of how you could movilize and empower the community to become more engaged in many more ways for the benefit of Haiku.

Interesting. We have something analogous for code - Trac.

It *would* make a difference in the psychic of the community. Even if the amount of substantive information were to be limited, it would still make the community feel more part of the goals of the project. These people are your constituents, and the more you make them part of the project, the more likely they are to become motivated to contribute.

I think that the people reading them would be as bored and uninterested as can be. I invite you to go read the meeting minutes from any town board meeting. When you wake up, tell me how they were. :-)

Any single act (like publishing the admin meeting logs) does not constitute the panacea for becoming open. A combination of things need to happen, and giving some visibility of what the admins discuss is one of them, but not the only one. Creating an environment where people can contribute is important, both in terms of rules of engagement as well as tools that could empower the potential contributors.

So, is that the real issue here? Somehow we are considered closed and people therefore don't want to contribute?

Well, the multiple times that we discussed the possibility of going with CafePress or the like, your only argument against it was high cost. Back then, I even did a little IRS research, and all there is to "quid pro quo contributions" (payments a donor makes to a charity partly as a contribution and partly for goods or services) are rules about disclosure and deductions, which are pretty easy to follow.

When I read the rules, it was a little vague. This is from the IRS website:

Distribution of low-cost articles
When soliciting donations through the mail, 501(c)(3)s sometimes include incidental items like greeting cards to encourage the recipient to make a donation. Either way, the recipient is allowed to keep the item.

Contributions received in this manner will not be included in the UBI tax calculation.

To qualify as “low-cost,” the item must not cost the organization more than $8.60. However, this value is subject to annual change.


There is a lot more to this. Look up Unrelated Business Income at stayexempt.org if you are really interested.

All the stuff about HaikuBounties chopped...

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